Our Own Filth

I'm not sure how coherent this blog post will be. I have been trying to find the time to write for several months, and now that Katherine is occupied with some very loud and distracting Daniel Tiger in the background, perhaps I can string a few sentences together. I used to have a little free time when Katherine napped, but I had to use that time to do so many other things, like watch Destination America. Now she only naps if I drive her around. She also used to sleep happily through the night, but ever since Halloween, she has woken up multiple times every night saying she is scared and talking about scary ghosts. I hope I just put her on Halloween overload in October, and there aren't actually scary ghosts in her room at night. But one of my friends sent me a YouTube video about burning sage to get rid of scary ghosts, so I'm armed and ready if need be! 

The Prestons are happily settling in to our new home, and we are finally nestling into our OWN filth, and not just someone else's filth. It feels good! Here are some pictures of our new digs! Enjoy!
Here's our front stoop after a minor makeover with new light fixtures,
topiaries, mums and Franco.
Front elevation before Derrick went hog wild with the chainsaw.

And... after going hog wild.
We have every intention of not having a dirt garden forever.

It was cathartic for him, really.

The most dramatic transformation happened in the dining room. 

RIP, broken orb light fixtures! Smell ya later, peeling wallpaper!
Does anyone want to buy me two more dining chairs?


I'll Miss You Least of All

A while ago I wrote about Derrick's and my housing search this winter, and just how disappointing it was turning out to be. As in, you want a master bathroom big enough to fit more than one person at a time? You had better be prepared to pay over one meelion dollars.

I am pleased to report that the real estate gods smiled upon the Prestons and landed us in a cute lil' cul-de-sac ranch in Westchester! We fought competed with three other buyers and were shocked when they picked us. We closed a few weeks ago and have been going up every weekend to scrape out every piece of DNA the previous owners left behind. I know all most a few of you are interested, so I will begin posting some before-and-after photos of the cosmetic transformation of House Preston! You will have to wait a couple years to see the kitchen. I need a miracle or a LOT of money, or both.

Our time here in the city is winding down and I am feeling rather bittersweet. Manhattan nostalgia is the very last thing I ever thought I would feel in my life. Honestly, I was not super stoked to move here (my childhood goal was and continues to be to live on a horse farm. Someday!), but being the positive and open-minded person I am, I decided to embrace NYC living as much as I could. So many people dream of living here, and I wasn't about to take that for granted, and I know I haven't. I have grown to love so many things about living here!

I've been trying to come up with a comprehensive list of things I'll miss about New York City and things I won't, but at this moment there is only one thing I hate more than anything else about life here (especially now that we are firing up the car every single weekend). The rural folks and suburbanites among you will not understand, but I hope you will laugh and thank whomever you worship that you do not have to deal with this. To you, it is totally banal, and you might tell me some people have real, actual problems. I agree, they do. This is not really a real problem. But to me, this situation makes me a prisoner, and while it isn't a real life problem, it's a giant headache and I can't wait not to deal with it anymore. It's unique to city living; we had the same issue in Philly as I'm sure many of my non-NYC urban readers can relate.

It is: trying to load/unload your car while it's illegally parked on a busy city street.

Imagine this, Cindy Lou reader living in Mississippi or North Carolina or wherever you are: you need to go to Target or Sam's, or you're going away somewhere relaxing for a long weekend of carefree pleasure. You leisurely load your car as you wish, at any time of day or night, because it's parked mere feet from your front door. Forgot something? No worries! Just pack things as you think of them! "Tra, la la," you sing, "What a breeze this is! A delightful breeze on a warm summery day!" Take your time; no one is honking at you. No one is waiting for you. No one is about to give you a parking ticket. 

When you live in a bustling city, this is so far from reality, and it makes you not want to go anywhere, ever. We park our car 5 blocks away. If we want to go away somewhere, we pile all our $#!t in the hallway, wait until we are minutes away from leaving, and try to load/balance it all on a rickety luggage cart. You only have one shot at this so you'd better get it right the first time! Derrick then makes the trek to get the car, and if he's lucky, the fire hydrant spot is vacant and he can squeeze in there for a few minutes. If he's not so lucky, he gets a ticket for parking there. If he's not so lucky not to be in the hydrant spot in the first place, he double parks and waits for the honks and middle fingers and shouting to start while we load the car as quickly as we can with all our crap. By the time you haul the rickety luggage cart down towards the car, at least 12 items have fallen, possibly the entire cart itself, onto the sidewalk where the local dogs relieve themselves. You saw the part about the fire hydrant, right? If you're lucky, the pee is mostly dried up, but you still know it's there. If you're really lucky, the things that fell off into the dog pee aren't things that typically go in your baby's hands and mouth, but you know what? Sometimes they are.

By the time you get buckled in and get moving, you are so freaking stressed out when you go to face city traffic and get the F--- out of there. Oh, but a carefree weekend of leisure and pleasure awaits! And then two or three days later, you do everything I just described all over again, except in reverse.

At least we have an elevator. I told you: I'm a positive person!

No, seriously. I'll miss you.


In Defense of the Mom Uniform

I have never been comfortably fashionable, except for those few years at Carolina where I gleefully embraced Chapel Hill student fashions: Polo shirts, sorority t-shirts, designer jeans, ribbon belts, Rainbows, North Face, and don't forget your Longchamps tote! Yes, I was a sheep! It was the best.

Two years ago, I was still schlepping across and up town with a fresh blowout and a clean wrap dress. One year ago, I was lucky if I got a shower a couple of times a week, I discovered dry shampoo, and every outfit selection involved the following thought process: "Can I access my boobs in this? Yes? Wear it. No? Can't wear it. Also, do I have to wear pants? Ugh, I really don't want to put on pants."

Lately, I have found myself struggling daily with what to wear. I now work for a 20-month-old on the steamy Manhattan sidewalks, not in an air-conditioned office with moderately rational people, so wrap dresses are impractical in baby gym and music classes, and I no longer have to access my boobs all the time, thank goodness. Winter was a little bit easier because of jeans, but now that it's hot, what is a fashion-challenged mom to do? I have had this discussion with a few other moms and I have been reluctant about this, but it's time to face the facts.

Athleisure is where it's at. You know. T-shirts and yoga capris.

It's the shit. It's the only solution. It doesn't look great, but damn it, it's practical, it's comfortable, and you don't feel bad when your kid wipes her tater tot hands on it and then draws on you. It's why nearly every mom pushing a stroller is wearing it. Maybe she's been to the gym, maybe she's going to the gym. Who cares? She probably isn't, and I fully support her, like the sports bra she's likely wearing.

Do I do yoga in my yoga pants? Absolutely not. I wouldn't dream of it. Mostly just because I hate yoga, but if you want to do yoga in your yoga pants, you go right ahead. I am happy for you!

I tried, really I did. I tried wearing the cute things I used to wear that made me feel like a better, less sloppy person.

I tried wearing skirts and dresses. You know what happened when I wore skirts? I flashed everyone while chasing my kid, and not just when the wind would blow up the hem on the street. Or I would go to pick up the kid and her foot would catch on the hem and the skirt would come up with her. This happened every single time. It just isn't practical when you're chasing a kid on a playground, climbing on equipment with them, sitting on the floor and standing back up, sitting on the floor and standing back up, and so on and so forth for 14 hours.

I tried wearing real bras. You know what happened when I wore real bras? My kid would pull on my shirt and reveal whatever was underneath - usually going so far as to say, "BOOBIES! All gone." I am not sure why she says "all gone" when referring to my boobies. She could be talking about the long-gone milk but she could also just be talking about the boobies themselves, mere shadows of their former selves. Whatever, at least she's using word phrases.

I tried wearing cute shorts. Just kidding, I haven't tried that. If you have found cute shorts that don't ride up your ass, you have found a f*cking unicorn chupacabra and you deserve my congratulations. Tell me in the comments where you found them because I am also looking for a f*cking unicorn chupacabra. How cool/scary would that be, btw?

We have come a long way, ladies. Moms who came before me figured this out a long time ago, but not that long. I'm finally embracing this reality rather than viewing it as "letting myself go." Centuries of clothed motherhood have culminated in this very moment. The evolution of fashion has taken us from crinoline to yoga capris, from powdered wigs to high ponies. My daughter is well cared-for, and I haven't flashed anyone in the process.

If Marie Antoinette were alive today, she would first look down her nose on the modern mom uniform, and then she would say, "Sacre bleu! What was I thinking all those years? I used to hate it when little Marie Therese would wipe her chubby camembert hands all over my fancy lace skirt, and then when little Louis grabs at my wig, it is just the worst. I wish they had had yoga capris in the 1700s. But, I wish a lot of things."

Marie Antoinette with Marie Therese and Louis,
flitting about Versailles by the Temple of Love,
clearly wishing she were in yoga pants and a t-shirt.


Screen Time

As a result of this long, cold NYC winter and my inability to adhere to pediatric laws banning all screen time for the under-2 set, Katherine and I have been dabbling in children's TV programming lately, and I have minimal regrets. She's breaking in her new armchair and I get to prepare her meals without her attached to my legs and screaming. She may end up at Hollywood Upstairs College instead of Yale because of this, but she may have ended up there anyway.

Since I was the youngest person in my family until Katherine arrived, I'm watching a lot of these children's shows for the very first time, save for Sesame Street, which looked a lot groovier and less Elmo-centric back in 1984.

If you haven't seen much current children's television programming, allow me to sum up what you're missing. And if you have seen it, well... 

Thomas & Friends: Trains with free will use good intentions to fuck everything up.

Dora the Explorer: High-pitched, repetitive Latina causes migraines and fights crime; just kidding, I have no idea what goes on on Dora.

Sofia the First: Naive white girl becomes princess and relentlessly attempts to impress her asshole princess step-sister and her bitch friends.

Peppa Pig: Entitled brat has adorable English accent, treats parents like jokes.

My Little Pony: Animators drop acid on the streets of Tokyo and see what happens next.

Sesame Street: Where do I begin? What's up with Bert and Ernie now being animated to look like claymation? Why not just do claymation? Why not just use the Bert and Ernie puppets? What's up with flying fairy school??? Is it time for Elmo's World yet?

Happy viewing!


House Hunt

It's a surreal moment when you realize you live somewhere where a garden hose is a status symbol. 

Think about it: in Manhattan, if you are in the market for a garden hose, your living space must be directly connected to some outdoor space for which you are personally responsible, so you're probably at least 2-weeks-in-the-Hamptons-rich. If that outdoor space is big enough to house plant life, you're probably rich enough to hire someone to take care of those plants at least once a week. If the outdoor space is big enough to house plant life so plentiful that a lowly plastic cup you got from a 1998 Mardi Gras parade won't suffice in keeping it alive, you may be in the market for a garden hose, in which case, you are probably freaking loaded. They sell these status symbols across 3rd Ave. at Gracious Home, frequented by those also in the market for $250 Christmas ornaments. 

So we want to move somewhere where a garden hose is not a status symbol; it's a normal thing normal people have. Like more than 6 square feet of kitchen counter space, or 4 walls for your daughter's bedroom, all of which go all the way to the ceiling. How many more discarded syringes and condoms was I going to stroll past on the sidewalks before I said enough was enough? Although in this neighborhood, I can confidently say the syringes are surely filled only with the finest Botox money can buy. And who am I to say the condoms aren't too?

So begins the great Preston house hunt.

Being from the South and house-hunting in the North is possibly the most depressing thing I've yet to personally experience. House-hunting in the South is like: "Which brand-new, customized, 6,500-square-foot home do I want to pay $180,000 for?"

That will be $180,000, please.

And in the North it's like: "Which 150-year-old $1.5 million tear-down isn't TOO haunted?" And I only know this from watching way too much HGTV, but if we were in Ireland we could buy a castle. Literally a CASTLE. Pray for us.

This can be yours for $1.25 million!